According to the Chamber, the mining sector has overtaken the agricultural sector as the mainstay of economic growth and now accounts for more than 50 percent of foreign exchange inflows into the country.
On the basis of current costs and policies gross revenues and fiscal revenues from the sector are seen increasing by 63 and 87 percent by 2018, respectively, to US$4,8 billion and US$729 million.
Chamber of Mines president Mr Alex Mhembere told the Mining and Infrastructure Indaba yesterday there was need to resuscitate closed mines and open new ones to maintain the current momentum.
“The mining sector has to date been the most dynamic sector of the Zimbabwean economy, leading the 2009-2011 rebound with average annualised growth (rate) of 35 percent,” he said.
This year’s edition of the annual Zimbabwe Mining and Infrastructure Indaba is running under the theme “Redefining Africa: Harnessing our Resources”.
The growth momentum is expected to sustain at an average of 19,2 percent between the period 2012 to 2015, but CoMZ said new deposits and mines should be discovered and opened.
The chamber said a good number of existing mines across the country that remain on care and maintenance or are closed due to capital and liquidity challenges should be resuscitated.
Even President Mugabe, as evidenced by his many recent statements, agrees mining will spur economic growth going forward despite drawbacks of low international commodity prices.
According to Mr Mhembere, most of the country’s major minerals are this year expected to register significant growth except chrome, which is anticipated to record a decline in production.
Gold production is expected to increase from 14,7 000kg to 17 000kg, platinum 10,5 000kg to 12,5 000kg, coal 1,7 000 tonnes to 2 000 000 tonnes, palladium 8 000kg to 10 000kg, diamonds 12 000 000 tonnes to 16 900 000 tonnes while nickel output is projected to 10 000 tonnes from 7,899 tonnes during the 2012 period.
The sector has become important and central to the economy of Zimbabwe with CoMZ saying its tax contribution to the fiscus grew from US$58 million in 2012 to US$445 million in 2012.
While the mining sector employed 59 000 people at the peak of its performance in 1995 the decade of recession saw the figure dropping to 33 000 in 2009 before climbing up to 45 000 in 2012.
Apart from its contribution to the fiscus and employment creation the towns and cities such as Kwekwe, Gweru, Bindura, Zvishavane and Hwange have thrived around mining activities.
With mining officially declared the centrepiece of the country’s economic growth and development Mr Mhembere said there was need to reopen closed mines, open new ones and beneficiate minerals before export for the country to derive maximum benefits from the sector.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa said while exploitation of minerals should benefit Zimbabweans the country also needed foreign capital and technology for sustainable mining and should reconcile the two imperatives for mutual benefit.
“The challenge that we must address, therefore, is to reconcile these two imperatives and come up with policies that cater to both the ordinary Zimbabwean and the investor,” the minister said.
He said Government identified mining as the lead sector in the country’s quest for development and the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development was charged with attaining this objective.
To that end, Minister Chidhakwa said Government was working on a new progressive mineral development policy that speaks to the country’s aspirations, but also caters for investors’ needs. The policy will also culminate in a new Mines and Minerals Act by end of this year.